History Timelines in the Montessori Lower Elementary Classroom

June 13, 2016
NAMC Montessori history timelines lower elementary. Teacher and child reading timeline

Illustrated as it must be by fascinating charts and diagrams, the creation of earth as we now know it unfolds before the child’s imagination...
—Maria Montessori
To Educate the Human Potential, p. 2.

The Montessori timelines in the NAMC History manual are beautiful presentations that naturally continue the excitement and awe the children experience during the presentation of the Five Great Lessons. These timelines can be made using directions from the NAMC manuals, printed from the Curriculum Support Material or purchased through Montessori suppliers.

History Timelines in the Montessori Lower Elementary Classroom

Before beginning the First Great Lesson and introducing the timelines, I like to present activities related to the concept of time as well as lessons about making and reading simple timelines. Both of these topics are presented in the NAMC Lower Elementary History manual. Many of the students also worked with simplified timelines in the Montessori early childhood environment. There, they explored the concept of time by relating it to their own lives — both their daily lives and their life from birth until preschool. These preparatory activities ready the students to work with the extensive timelines that are presented in the elementary environment.

NAMC Montessori history timelines lower elementary. teacher and child looking at picture

After the presentation of the First Great Lesson: The Beginning of the Universe and the Earth, the children are awakened and thirsty for more about this expansive topic. The Timeline of Earth and The Timeline of the Universe give a historical linear picture of the sequence of events presented in this Great Lesson. After exploring these timelines, students are generally excited to learn more and ready for exploration of the solar system and space research. Going Out activities to an observatory or space center are very relevant and exciting opportunities for students during this period of study.

After presenting the Second Great Lesson: Life Comes to Earth, I invite the children to explore the Timeline of Life that artistically demonstrates the linear sequence of life on Earth over time mentioned in this Great Lesson. I like to present this timeline in the days following the Second Great Lesson so that the ideas are fresh in the students’ minds and they are still very intrigued and curious about the story. Every year, each student in our class excitedly chooses a section of the timeline of life to color. We then piece together everyone’s work and hang the entire timeline in our classroom. Once the timeline is complete, we build on the students’ interest and excitement by working on a broad range of lessons in botany, zoology, and history that link directly to the Second Great Lesson.

NAMC Montessori history timelines lower elementary. looking at a moth

The Timeline of People naturally follows the Third Great Lesson: Humans Come to Earth. Just as with the Timeline of Life, my students really look forward to coloring and constructing the Timeline of People. There is a lot of information in this lesson and on the timeline in particular. It is important to not present too much information to the students. Instead, keep the information factual and brief, touching on the important points and capturing the students’ interest in certain areas. There are many lessons in the NAMC History manual that give the students opportunities to investigate topics presented in the Third Great Lesson and the Timeline of People in greater detail. There are also many Going Out opportunities that we connect to this lesson and timeline, such as visiting museums, cultural centers, and heritage centers for indigenous people.

Montessori timelines are wonderful materials that directly relate to the fascinating stories of the Great Lessons in a hands-on, linear manner.

Engaging students in unfolding the timelines, constructing them, and investigating the timeline events in further detail makes the abstract presentations more concrete. This work becomes a lasting and memorable event in their learning.
Julie — NAMC Graduate, Montessori Teacher
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